The principal sources of natural colours

The principal sources of natural colours

Safflower (Golrangh): Scientific name of this plant is “Carthamus Tinctorius L.” and in Iran it is popularly known as golrangh. The plant grows up to the height of one metre. Its leaves are thorny and shiny. The flowers of this plant are initially Saffron colour, which later turn red. The Iranian dyers use the petals to dye the silk fibre to a golden red.

Madder (Ronas): The botanical name of this plant is “rubia Tinctorum” but the variety of this plant that grows in Iran called Rubia Peregrina. The plant is cultivated in areas of Azarbaijan, Mazandaran, Kerman and in some central parts of Iran. It produces natural red colours. The root of this plant grows a depth of two metres or so in sandy soil, from which one gets a better colour essence. The plant root has a substance named “Rabitric acid” composed of sugar and colour essence called Alizarin. To produce the red colour, the root is taken out in late autumn and dried in the sun or in special furnaces (60 Degree Centigrade). However, the best colour is obtained, if it is dried in the shade. In the dyeing process Iranian dyers generally use sour milk which contains lactic acid. By use of this process they obtain fast and shiny colour.

Cochineal (Ghermez Daneh): The scientific name “Coctu cacti”. The existence and use of this insect has been known for a long time for preparing natural red colours. The red substance which is a compound of “carminic acid”, oozes out of the body of this insect. The insect developed on the shores of the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman and in parts of Baluchestan. The various species of Cochineal live on the Oak and cactus trees and they increase with such rapidity that they cover all the branches.

Saffron (Zaferan): Botanical name ‘Crocus Sativus” is a bulbous plant. It is cultivated in Ghaenat and Birjand area of Khorasan province of Iran. Highly valued for its taste and flavor it is used to improve the quality of food. On account of its worldwide demand, the price had a phenomenal increase; therefore, it is no longer used as dye.

Logwood (Bagham): Botanical name “Haematoxylon Campechianum”. It is a thorny tree. Its bark is boiled and the sap obtained from it is transformed into powder or crystallized form. It is then used for dyeing natural black and grey colours. Exposure to sunlight does not affect the colours produced from logwood. Together with different mordants logwood produced light purple, violet, grey and black colours. For obtaining pure black colour, Iranian dyers use a mixture of a logwood and Esparak.

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